Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Political Road Ahead

A glowing NYT editorial today:
January 5, 2008

The Political Road Ahead

It is dangerous to draw too many conclusions from the Iowa caucuses — a telegenic display of activism by a tiny slice of Americans. No winner of contested Iowa caucuses has then gone on to win the White House.

Still some powerful political currents were on display in Iowa, starting with a yearning for change and inspirational leadership among Democrats. Senator Barack Obama positively soaked it up, growing steadily more confident and powerful in his oratory. Senator Hillary Clinton’s events were more like required-attendance lectures than rallying points for a political movement.

Republicans, too, talked about change, but mostly it was changing their association with President Bush. His name was hardly mentioned in Iowa, except by a dozen or so Republicans at a caucus we attended who explained why they had turned out for Mr. Obama.

The big question is whether these political currents remain charged as the campaign moves through New Hampshire, and into more populous and complex states.

In Iowa, Mr. Obama erased the gender gap, doing better than Mrs. Clinton among men and women, and replaced it with something we’ll call the post-baby boomer effect. On caucus night, there was a very strong showing by men and women under 45, not just the expected 18-to-25-year-olds. Half supported Mr. Obama, a huge show of force in a multiple-candidate race.

Half of the Democrats said they picked a candidate based on his or her ability to change things, and they were overwhelmingly Obama people. Yes, there were those who talked about experience or the ability to win, and they preferred Mrs. Clinton, but those Iowans made up only about a quarter of the caucuses.


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